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Gun control is watered down in Senate before debate begins

Published: Fri, March 22, 2013 @ 12:00 a.m.

People who thought the car- nage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., was going to spur Congress toward tough new gun controls — or even the reinstatement of some expired gun controls, — are learning some new political realities.

Where the assassination of President John F. Kennedy brought legislation on mail-order gun sales, and the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan resulted in passage of the Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act, it appears that the legislative reaction to Newtown will be not a bang but a whimper.

It appears that the most hat gun-control advocates can expect to see in Senate legislation will be a broadening of background checks on those who purchase firearms in an effort to keep guns from criminals, people with serious mental problems and others considered potentially dangerous.

None of that would have kept the mother of Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza from purchasing the semiautomatic assault-style rifle or the 30-round capacity magazines he used to massacre 20 elementary school children and six educators.

We will grant that banning assault weapons would not materially affect access of Lanza’s mother or anyone else to weapons capable of inflicting heavy damage on a shooter’s targets. The differences between semiautomatic hunting rifles and semiautomatic assault-style rifles are largely cosmetic.

But an argument can be made that restricting magazine size to 10 rounds at least has the potential for slowing a madman down by forcing him to carry more magazines and to change them more often. That may be little consolation, but comes at little cost. Not having access to larger magazines does very little to lessen the ability of any gun owner to protect himself or herself or to enjoy hunting or sport shooting.

Counting heads

But Senate majority Leader Harry Reid predicted that the more stringent legislation championed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., would have likely received only 40 Democratic votes and no Republican votes. Such is the power of the gun lobby, especially in red states now served by Democratic senators.

Those who thought that pictures of 20 young gun victims — such as were displayed in a front-page layout by the New York Daily News the other day — were going to change the politics of gun control have been quickly disabused.

They can hope for stronger background checks and anticipate some increased funding for school security and, perhaps, for mental health screening. Beyond that, they will only be able to take solace in the possibility that the debate that will be taking place in Congress will set the stage for more meaningful reform at some future date. But the horrifying reality is that stricter controls are only likely if there is yet another mass murder involving large-capacity magazines such as those used at the Newtown school and the Aurora, Colo., theater, where James Holmes killed 12 people and wounded 58 others.

That is too high a price to even contemplate.


1polhack(129 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

Politicians follow the money whether directly or second hand in the form of voter influence by big time lobbies. At least better background checks ( provided the NRA doesn't continue to block the efforts and staffing levels of the ATF) should help if only a little. Meanwhile, we should all buy guns to provide for our self defense against banana-clip carrying, survivalist boneheads who comprise a clearer and more present danger to the good order of a society under the rule of just laws than they do a militia opposing the rise of tyrants.

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2Photoman(1249 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

Gun owners who have legally purchased guns have committed so few crimes with their weapons as to be statistically insignificant. Instead of casually labeling all gunowners as boneheads it would be much wiser to deal with facts and then pursue the criminal elements in our society.

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3dmacker(544 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

"None of that would have kept the mother of Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza from purchasing the semiautomatic assault-style rifle or the 30-round capacity magazines he used to massacre 20 elementary school children and six educators".

How about we focus our efforts on what caused Adam Lanza to commit such a horrible crime. Let's improve our mental health services to provide the ability of early intervention and treatment of those with dangerous mental problems. Otherwise we still have our heads in the sand and won't be able to prevent further tragedies.
Let's spend our energy and money on something that will make a difference.
The common thread linking Columbine, Aurora, Tucson and Sandy Hook is the anti-social behavior of the shooters.
While true they all used a firearm, a bomb could have been as deadly and at least two of the incidents (Columbine and Aurora) did involve improvised explosive devices.

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4redeye1(5678 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

dmacker The kid at Sandy Hill NEVER used the assault rifle. It was found in the trunk of his car. I wish people would just get it right. But I do agree with you on the issue of the anti social behavior . But for what i have read they are good at hiding their feeling, so that might be harder to prove then we all think.

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5kurtw(1829 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

How would it be if, instead of making life harder for law- abiding gun owners, we concentrated on making life as difficult as possible for people who misuse weapons to commit crimes and injure others?

For instance, the recent incident on the YSU Campus where a shooter from Pittsburgh shot twelve times at a group of people and put a women- caught in the cross fire- in the hospital seriously injured resulted in what charge against the shooter?

Felonious Assault. A wrist slap. The penalty range for felonious assault is 2 to 8 years- with good behavior back out on the street in 3 to 4.

Stack that up against attempted murder. 20 to 25 years, big difference. I would say, it you shoot a dozen times against a group of people- that's attempted murder in anybody's book.

Why wasn't this particular shooter (and all the other shooters in Y-town) subjected to the more serious- and appropriate- charge? I don't know- ask your Prosecutor.

Gun violence of that kind calls for the harshest penalty possible- how, in God's name, is taking guns away from law-abiding citizens going to protect anybody- except the criminals because, then, they won't have to worry about anybody shooting back at them.

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